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BPAL - Aglaea, Phantasm, Siren

I've gone and done it - I ordered Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab imps (little samples that BPAL calls "imp's ears" and that everyone who has this hobby seems to call just imps). BPAL sells strangely named perfume oil blends, and just reading the descriptions on the website is a total kick.

Anyway, there's a delicious and slightly absurd element of ritual (my sister called it that, when I described it to her) in the way one tests these things. That's not to say everyone does it this way, but wotthehell, I can see the point of it, and maybe it will eventually help me learn to detect some of these scented ingredients, so I'm gonna do the whole in-the-bottle, on-the-skin, drydown thing. And I'm going to give them points out of 10, which is something I've seen done on several blogs with BPAL reviews.

Aglaea - Splendor (7/10)
Three golden ambers, bright musk, peach wine and myrtle.

note - irritating to broken skin

  • in bottle: intensely sweet, like peach candy
  • on skin: still very sweet, but warm and powdery notes (possibly amber and musk?) emerging
  • drydown: faint, sweet amber with spicy undertone

I liked this, but not to wear, myself, as perfume. I gave it to the Young Lady. I think maybe I should try some more amber-ish stuff.

Phantasm (7/10)
Green tea, lemon verbena, jasmine and neroli.

  • in bottle: sweet, lemony, pleasant yet piercing
  • on skin: similar but more floral/herbal
  • drydown: faint, interesting scent ... can't decide whether I like it, but I kept wanting to sniff it

Pretty, but not very long-lasting. Some people have called the initial scent "Lemon Pledge," but it's nicer than that.

Siren (6/10)
White ginger, jasmine, and a touch of vanilla and apricot.

  • in bottle: slightly sweet, pungent, and spicy
  • on skin: warm, sweet, spicy, vanilla increasingly apparent, slightly medicinal - almost like some sort of confection (smillaraaq was absolutely right about this - it's really like white chocolate goodie with fruit)
  • drydown: vanilla/floral only

Meh.

I had also ordered Croquet, Zephyr, and La Belle au Bois Dormant, and they sent me Vampire Tears and Yew Trees as freebies. I tried the Croquet and Zephyr before I decided to get systematic, so I guess I'll have to try them again ... phooey, because I didn't like them that much (men's cologne and old-lady floral soap, respectively).

This makes me realize how lucky I have been with regular ol' perfumes ... Calyx, Escape (a little too sweet), and Acqua di Gio are my usual ones.

Comments

( 74 comments — Leave a comment )
telophase
Nov. 13th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
Mmmmm amber, my YES YES YES scent! Ambers that work well on me:

Jacob's Ladder 2006 (Xmas limited edition)

The Lion - amber and dry grass, which smells like the savanna to me and is therefore unique in being the only BPAL scent that actually matches its description. :D

Bakeneko (limited edition) - Smelled better when new; has aged into mostly just cinnamon.

Schwarzer Mond (another LE) - Unique in being the only one with patchouli as a major element that doesn't go head-shop on me.

Gypsy Queen (Carnaval Noir LE)

Bastet

Brisingamen - Mmmmmmm. Soft fruity blossoms and warm amber.

Versailles - MMMMMMMM! Regal citrus and amber.

Megaera - Very close to Versailles
chomiji
Nov. 13th, 2007 10:40 pm (UTC)

See, I didn't know I liked amber until I started playing with these!

The regular things I like are all called "fruity florals," but they're all light and fresh - so I was basing most of my choices on those. But I realize that I also love my Origins Ginger Souffle body creme stuff, which actually has a warm, spicy scent (despite the description on their site, which makes it sound all citrus-y ... yeah, there's citrus, but also tons of spices and eucalyptus and things ... ). So that might be another direction to go, amber and citrus and spices.

I keep expecting to get an allergic reaction from something on one of these, because regular perfumes frequently give me horrible headaches. But this small sampling hasn't given me anything like that yet.

smillaraaq
Nov. 13th, 2007 10:48 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, if spicy-and-fruity works for you, perhaps you might like Tenochtitlan? That one got swapped right away as it was a bit too fruity-sweet for me, but it definitely had some nice spiciness that *almost* was enough to counteract the fruit (but as you've seen in past reviews, I really prefer scents that are dry rather than sweet). It might be a little more on the rich side rather than light, though.

So far the only fruit-and-spice I've really liked was Gomorrah, as it was more of an earthy fruitiness (fig) rather than something sticky-sweet, and much much heavier on the spice. But that's one I'd definitely class as more of a spicy wintery heavy sort of scent rather than light and fresh.

Embalming Fluid or Shanghai might work very well for you on the light-clean-green tea side of things. (They made me very sad as I'd heard lots of raves about them, but both turned hideously soapy on my skin.)
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smillaraaq
Nov. 13th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
Hee, you certainly don't have to be so finicky about testing them, but I just find it's rather fun to pay attention to how they change on the skin throughout the day. And it's not strictly a BPAL thing, as there are some general perfume blogs out there with reviewers who go into such detail that they'd put the average BPAL testing post to shame. :)

(And I will never understand the folks who just sniff stuff in the vial and reject scents based on that, because the bottle scent is often not at all an accurate reflection of what it will do once it's being worn!) Some of these scents can be very stable, others are rather mercurial in wear, and it can be rather amusing to track how they behave. Funnily enough I *almost* got La Belle au Bois Dormant in that last order focused on florals, as I'm curious as to how true their plumeria and tuberose notes seem -- definitely looking forward to hearing how that works out!

If you're fond of amber, in conventional fragrances you might want to check out Stella McCartney's stuff, which seem to be mostly amber-heavy florals -- I had a free sample of "Stella In Two" earlier this year which was nice, if not quite my thing -- alas, I've already passed it along to another amber-loving friend.
telophase
Nov. 13th, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
Well, there's some scents I can tell won't work on me from a bottle-sniff. Mostly the ones that have enough jasmine or cedar in them to trip my allergic reactions. XD
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chomiji
Nov. 13th, 2007 10:48 pm (UTC)

I'm a big believer in individual body chemistry, so I can't see not trying them on the skin - unless the smell in the bottle is a complete turn-off (and I'm afraid that's what happened with most of the little paper samples you sent ... ).

See, I didn't know I liked amber. Also, at the moment, since I have some mainstream perfumes that I like, I'd rather play with these silly things! For one thing, I like supporting small businesses, when I can. For another, this is good for training my nose. My sniffer is pretty sensitive - I was always the housemate/roommate who had the dubious pleasures of sniffing things to see whether they'd gone bad and tracking down "what's making that awful smell!" - and it's nice to be using it for something pleasant!

sanada
Nov. 13th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
Ohoho, those things are addictive... I've got a bunch of them. My personal favorite is "Dee", which has a dusty leather and incense smell that makes me think of a medieval library. I've got a lot of the really sharp pines, herbals, and labdanums too. I stay away from the florals and berries because they're too girly... the only floral I've liked was "Envy", which smells a lot like hyacinths and other springlike green things. But I like BPAL perfumes because they usually have two or three notes that come through strongly and actually smell like *something*, unlike regular perfume where I can't place any of the scents so it comes off kind of chemical-y to me.
smillaraaq
Nov. 13th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
I have got to try Dee one of these years, as incense scents so far seem to be one of my greatest BPAL weaknesses (and leather is a pretty good note on me, too). But Envy was so sharp-crisp-green on me that I really didn't even notice any floral coming through on my skin, it was much more sharp herbs and mint...
sanada
Nov. 13th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
It's such a *nice* incense, too! It doesn't smell like a secondhand shop run by a hippie with a half-smoked joint dangling from his lips. *laugh* Ahh, I was hoping I'd get more of the sharp herbs and mint, but my skin chemistry made it really floral! (so anything that's intended to be floral is usually overpowering)
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chomiji
Nov. 13th, 2007 10:33 pm (UTC)

And I never knew you were into this thing! Not in all the hours of talking we've done! (Which I think is wonderful ... people should be fractile-ish ... always another dimension to uncover, no matter how closely you look ... .)

The regular ol' perfumes I like are all classified as "fruity florals," but the fruits aren't really sweet - I guess they must be citrus things or melon or something. So I was trying things with those kinds of ingredients.

I know what you mean about "smelling like something." So many perfumes, to me, just smell like ... perfume. Who cares about something that smells like that?

The other inspiration I have for picking these things will be the two scented body lotions that I like - I had almost forgotten about them because I wear them (I alternate between them) only once the heat needs to be on. Thymes' "Green Tea" has tea, woody, and rose scents in it, and Origins "Ginger Souffle" has orange flower water, citrus, eucalyptus, and lots and lots of spices (mostly ginger, obviously).

sanada
Nov. 13th, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
I could have sworn we'd talked about these! *laugh* Well, welcome to another weird, fannish hobby!!

The only regular old perfume that I wear regularly is "Tea for Two" from L'Artisan, but the BPAL scents with similar notes (ginger, tea, more ginger) have been hit-or-miss because their ginger is so easily overwhelmed by whatever else is in there.

Yeah! Most perfumes are unidentifiable flowers + that weird alcohol/chemical bitterness (aldehyde, I guess) or so many things blended together that it smells like the equivalent of throwing the contents of your fridge into a blender and eating the resulting slurry. Er, maybe I just don't have a very sophisticated nose.

Have you ever tried the soaps and lotions from Lush? Lots of BPAL fans are into Lush too (and they do the same descriptive blogging!) I think they have a store in Bethesda. The soaps are so pretty too...
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the_resa
Nov. 13th, 2007 09:47 pm (UTC)
(trembles)
Oh ...
Must Have!
chomiji
Nov. 13th, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)

XD

This seems to be the hobby of geeky women ... I first ran into it on neilgaimanboard, when it came up because of the BPAL line of Neil Gaiman-inspired scents, but didn't even think of looking past that page until I realized how many of my LJ friends had this particular jones. smillaraaq finally pushed me over the edge! You can get 6 imps, plus a couple of freebies, for $20 ... .

smillaraaq
Nov. 13th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
That's *four* people now who are blaming me for this, and I wasn't even trying! ;)
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sanada
Nov. 13th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
If you really want to get weird about it, you can swap half-used imps and stuff on LJ comms like bpalmarketplace or sinandsalvation - then you can get all of those discontinued or rare ones without waiting for BPAL's slow shipping~ And people on those comms usually toss in a free imp or some candy or tea with your order, which is cool. (also, you can easily unload the stuff you didn't like and try new ones!)
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( 74 comments — Leave a comment )

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